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"oo-aar me dear here's me lightsaber?"
David Prowse, MBE (born 1 July 1935 in Bristol, England) is an English bodybuilder, weightlifter and actor. He played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, though the character's voice was provided by James Earl Jones. He also played the Green Cross Code man, a character used in British road safety advertising.
The Bristol born actor was picked to play the villain vader after being spotted by George Lucas after his performance in A Clockwork Orange in 1971.
Despite answering Lucas’s offer with “excuse me, but I’ve never heard of you”, Mr Prowse went on to appear in all three original Star Wars films- however, not all of his performance quite made the final cut.
The actor who played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars films says hopefuls from Bristol auditioning for the new film should "disguise their accents".
Darth Vaders Voice Before Voice Over
Difficulties with understanding his speech through the cumbersome Darth Vader mask meant all of Dave’s dialogue was re-recorded separately at the end of the filming process.
But sadly, not by him, thanks to the cost of trans-Atlantic flights.
He explained: "Obviously I thought it was me that was going to go into the sound studio but what happened is that they got to the end of the movie and they had to take it to America for the special effects.
“While they were there they realised they hadn’t done all the overdubbing of the Darth Vader voice, but it was too expensive to get me over so they got James Earl Jones.
“People will say all kinds of nasty excuses. They’ll come up and tell me it was because they didn’t like my Bristol accent."
Dave Prowse starred in episodes four to six but his Bristolian accent was later dubbed over by James Earl Jones. He told people going to Bristol for the open casting sessions for Star Wars: Episode VII to be "very, very serious about the whole thing".
"You can't go 'oo-aar my dear here's my lightsaber," he said.
David Prowse definitely did not have the right voice. He is from Bristol in the UK, and has a Bristolian accent, what would be described as in the UK as a 'west country accent'. To many ears this sounds a little parochial - most people would think this more the accent for a farmer than a galactic enforcer for the Emperor, however unfair that comparison might be.
Prowse, who is 6ft 6ins (1.96m) tall, was born in Bristol in 1935 and attended Bristol Grammar School.
Prowse was brought up on the Southmead housing estate in Bristol, winning a scholarship to Bristol Grammar School. In his teens, Prowse was 6 feet 6 inches (198 cm) tall, and developed an interest in bodybuilding. His early jobs included a bouncer at a dance hall, where he met his future wife, and a lifeguard at Henleaze Swimming Pool. Following his successes from 1961 in the British heavyweight weightlifting championship, he left Bristol in 1963 to work for a London weightlifting company.
In 1999, it was rumoured that thieves broke into Prowse's home and stole the lightsaber he used in the Star Wars trilogy and several of his other possessions. However, after a discussion with Prowse on 4 May 2007, he said that the "lightsaber" was actually a toy and not an original prop. He explained that the story printed about the break-in concentrated on the supposed "lightsaber" and not on the jewellery and other valuables taken. He further said that he was never given any of the props from the Star Wars films.
Prowse also became fitness consultant to Harrods, ripped up phonebooks under the stage name ‘Jack the Ripper’, and opened a series of gymnasiums, notably ‘The Dave Prowse Fitness Centre’ in London.
Prowse has been married since 1963 and is the father of three children. He is a prominent supporter of Bristol Rugby Club.
Before entering the acting profession he was a successful bodybuilder and weightlifter.
Prowse won the British heavyweight weightlifting championship in 1962 and the following two years. He represented England in the weightlifting event at the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth, Western Australia.
He helped train Christopher Reeve for the role of Superman in the 1978 film and its sequels after lobbying for the part himself. In a television interview, he related how his response to being told "we've found our Superman" was "Thank you very much." Only then was he told that Reeve had been chosen for the role and he was to only be a trainer. He trained Cary Elwes for his role as Westley in The Princess Bride.
The actor's early screen roles included parts in a number of Hammer horror films and Doctor Who.
He also played the Green Cross Code man in television road safety commercials for 13 years.
When Prowse attended his own audition for Star Wars in 1976, nobody knew what a massive success it would turn out to be.
Director George Lucas offered Prowse either the part of Chewbacca or Darth Vader.
Prowse chose the role of the latter and told Lucas "everyone remembers the villain, George".
Although he now lives in Croydon in Surrey, Prowse said he regularly returns to Bristol to see family in Filton, and is "very proud" of his roots.
In November 2014 the Daily Mirror reported that Prowse had dementia. However, Prowse himself denied this, admitting instead he had problems with his memory, which he put down to age.